A 66-year-old Hope man is still missing after falling into the Fraser River while fishing on Saturday.
A witness told police that Herbert Wells slipped off a rock into the water south of Saddle Rock Tunnel, approximately three kilometers north of Yale, at about 3:35 p.m. He was not wearing a life jacket at the time and is presumed drowned.
Members from Hope Search and Rescue, the First Nations policing unit, and the RCMP seasonal policing division have been looking for Wells on land and in the river. Hope Search and Rescue also conducted a helicopter search over the weekend and Kamloops RCMP air services was called in on Monday morning to patrol the area.
“This is our first tragedy on our rivers this season,” said Const. Tracy Wolbeck. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.”
Wells’ oldest sister Doreen Jones, who lives in Abbotsford, said her brother had been a resident of Hope for about 20 years. Even though he hadn’t spoken to her in over a year, Jones said she knew fishing in the Fraser wasn’t uncommon for her brother.
“Unfortunately accidents happen,” she said. “He didn’t really keep in touch with us but he will be missed.”
This is the second river tragedy for the family. In November 1978, their uncle Wilfred Wells was trying to pull a fishing net out of the Fraser when he lost his balance and fell in. His body later washed up near Union Bar.
“The RCMP want to remind fishermen and anyone who is near the river to always wear a flotation device,” said Wolbeck. “The rivers in the Upper Fraser Valley are running extremely fast and cold, and a flotation device could save a life in an emergency situation.”